Anuschka is undoubtably the queen of capsule wardrobes. She’s sharply defined her personal style, mastered shopping for quality items, and created a wardrobe that seems to offer infinite options. She chronicles her sartorial adventure on her blog Into Mind and has written the book Personal Style and The Perfect Wardrobe, a brilliant workbook that can walk anyone through creating their own capsule wardrobe. She answered a few of our questions on developing great personal style.
What is the first step in defining personal style?
The number one thing I recommend people do at the beginning of their style journey is to expose themselves to as many different types of aesthetics as possible and collect inspiration like crazy. The trick is to do this in a very conscious way and not just passively pin images, but really think about what exactly you like about that image. Is it the overall mood, a specific item or the colour scheme? Then, once you have already collected a good stack of inspiration, go back over it and delete anything that you don’t like anymore or that doesn’t speak to you as much. Then, look for more inspiration, cull and repeat. Over time what started as a very general collection of things you kinda like will slowly turn into a very clear representation of your own personal style. The step after that would then be to closely analyse your final set of images, dissect them into individual elements (colours, fabrics, details, etc.) and figure out how to incorporate these elements into your wardrobe.
You’ve talked about developing a signature look. How do I stick to my basic look without feeling like I’m wearing the exact same thing every day?
The idea of developing a signature look is to come up with a single outfit formula that perfectly fits your style, lifestyle and body shape and that you can wear in lots of different versions, not every day but just whenever you feel like it. Lots of people like having a very closely defined uniform that they don’t switch up too much, but if you prefer more variety you can simply just choose a signature look that’s less defined and therefore more flexible. A basic framework like “Slim-fitting trousers + loose-fitting top + jacket + heels” can really be turned into a ton of different outfits plus you always have the option to accessorise.
Sometimes my wardrobe feels like nothing is right, but I can only buy a few new items. How do I make sure I make the biggest impact?
When your wardrobe doesn’t suit your style at all anymore, my advice would be to first focus on finding a handful of key pieces that you can mix and match with your less-than-ideal clothes while you work on the rest of your wardrobe. I would not necessarily go for really plain basics because they would not make too much of a difference to your outfits, but also steer clear of statement pieces that you can’t pair with a lot of other things or wear to many different occasions. Go for key pieces that are neither too dressed down nor dressed up and ideally also things that you can wear several times a week and several times between washes, like jackets, pants or skirts, one versatile day bag or a great pair of shoes. But before you buy anything: Spend some time defining your style and also your ideal capsule wardrobe. That way, you have a plan to work towards and can gradually add more and more pieces that all fit into the same framework.
When out shopping, how do I stay focused on my personal style? Store displays of trendy clothes can be very convincing!
Ah, that’s a tricky one and requires a little bit of discipline 🙂 What I always say on my blog is that in order to make good purchasing decisions most of your decision making should happen before you even leave the house. That means you should know exactly what types of pieces you need and have defined a few must-have criteria like the colour, fabric, fit, details, your budget and so on. If you then go into a store you can just filter everything that’s on display and do all of your shopping in a way that’s much quicker and less stressful.
When shopping with a limited budget it can feel impossible to find something of quality. What’s your advice?
This is also something I used to struggle with a lot when I was a full-time student, but since then I’ve found a couple of things that may help. First of all, quality is not 100% correlated with price: The quality of a top that costs $80 is not twice as good as that of a top for $40, so you cannot rely on price as the sole indicator for quality and need to be able to assess the quality of a garment yourself. Secondly, some items and fabrics are much easier to manufacture than others, and those kinds of items/materials are ones that you can usually find at a good quality at more affordable stores as well. Think cotton, basic t-shirts and even things like chinos and simple skirts. Other pieces, especially jackets, are a lot more expensive and difficult to produce and so cheaper brands usually skip production steps that make the jacket not only look good on the rack but also sturdy enough to last for several years. For those items, it’s better to wait until you have the money saved up and then buy one really good piece that will last you a long time.
How do you determine if items will be able to mix and match with what you already own?
That’s the beauty of working with a capsule wardrobe: if you have spent some time developing your style and built your wardrobe around a defined, coherent style concept and a colour palette, you will know exactly if a piece fits that concept or not. As a general rule, before I buy something I also always double check that I can instantly come up with at least three different outfits I can build with it and that I’m truly excited at the prospect of wearing it 🙂